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Cartoon: waiter pouring sugar onto woman's meal

Manage Your Sugar Intake Before It Manages You

By Jeffrey Baumgartner

Question: what is the difference between dinner and dessert? If you answered dessert is sweet and dinner is savoury, you may be wrong. Unless you prepare meals completely from scratch, your meals probably contain considerably more sugar and other sweeteners than you realise. And those sweeteners are making a lot of people overweight.

The first step in the knowledegeable diet is to get added sugars and sweeteners out of meals and consign them to desserts only. Main meals must be savoury while desserts are sweet.

Prepared Foods are Prepared with Sugar

This means you need to start paying more attention at supermarkets. Frozen meals, prepared foods, sauces, canned vegetables and just about everything that one company or another has combined for your eating pleasure usually contain added sugar. Fortunately, all you need to do to confirm this is to read the ingredients list on prepared foods. Food makers are obliged to list ingredients in order of the amount in the product. So, if sugar comes early on in the list, that means there is a lot of sugar in the food. Look also for different kinds of sweeteners

Even canned plain vegetables tend to have added sugar, so check the labels on canned corn, peas, mushrooms and anything else.

As much as possible, choose products that do not contain added sugars. With processed foods, this will not be easy. With simpler canned foods, it will be easier. Better still, as much as possible, buy fresh foods and prepare meals yourself.

Time Investment

And do not tell me you do not have time to make meals! That is nonsense. You have 24 hours a day, just like everyone else on the planet. Surely, your health is worth a little investment of your time otherwise dedicated to the TV, web or your phone. Indeed, if you lose weight and stay fit, you can expect to live longer and healthier -- so it is not like you are even losing time. You are investing time to gain more time.

Moreover, there are a lot of great meals you can make within a half hour. Grill some fresh fish, boil fresh vegetables and make some rice. It can all be ready to eat in 30 minutes. Put some water on to boil; fry some tofu (or meat), vegetables and herbs, put pasta in the water to boil; and mix it all together. Viola! A great pasta dish in less than a half hour. That is not much longer than it takes to microwave a frozen dinner. And you will have a healthy, sugar-free and delicious meal rather than an oversweet tasteless combination that was made in a factory by underpaid and unmotivated workers in a place far away. There are loads of cookbooks that can get you started in fast, nutritious and delicious meals.

Drinks

If you go to great lengths to remove added sugar from your meals and then wash those meals down with sweetened drinks, you are doing yourself no favours. Water, unsweetened fruit juice, dry to medium dry wine or unsweetened tea make fine accompaniments to a savoury dinner. And if you must have a sweet drink, have it as an aperitif. Then have water with the meal.

Dessert Time Is Sweet Time

Now, when it comes time for dessert, you can have sugar. After all, dessert is meant to be sweet. Moreover, by consigning your added sugars to desserts that are meant to be sweet, you will make it easier for you to manage your sugar intake.

While you are separating sugar out of main courses and into dessert courses, go ahead and enjoy your usual desserts and serving sizes. Sugar appears to be addictive. If you attempt to cut it out of your life in one go, you are likely to suffer from sugar cravings.

Slowly Reduce Your Dessert Servings

Then, once get used to unsweetened main courses, you can start reducing the size of your dessert servings. You can even replace sweets with fresh fruit, which also contains sugar, but which is better for you.

Once your meals  are no longer sweetened and as your desserts grow smaller, you will find your desire for sugar decreases. In time, you may find that you no longer have any  real desire for dessert.

You may also find that not only are you losing weight, but you are doing so in a sustainable way while enjoying great food. Moreover, if you have kids, you are getting them started on dietary habits that are conducive to healthy living and less likely to result in overweight problems in the future.

Remember

The things you should take away from this article are simple:

  1. Remove sugar as much as possible from main course meals.
  2. As much as possible, use fresh meat, fish and vegetables to make meals yourself.
  3. If that is not possible, check the labels on food products and buy products that have no -- or little -- added sugar.
  4. Eat sweetened foods only for dessert.
  5. Slowly reduce the size of your desserts.

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